Nancy Pelosi may not have enough votes for the “robust” public option tied to Medicare rates plus 5%. The Hill has published the official whip count [note: The Hill has now removed this page. Data was copied and posted here] of those House Democrats who oppose the robust public option.
As I’ve pointed out countless times before, a robust public option would have premiums roughly 10%-11% less (according to the CBO and CMS) than typical private insurance. That would be around a $1,400 reduction in premiums for the average family that could choose the robust public option. Forcing Americans to pay roughly $1,400 more a year on health insurance premiums, by denying them the choice of a robust public option, is the first slap in the face.
The second big slap in the face is that robust public option would save the government $85 billion more than a weaker public option (with negotiated rates instead of those based on Medicare). Since Obama set an absurd $900 billion ceiling on the cost of health care reform, most of that $85 billion will need to be made up by reducing affordability tax credits to low- and middle-income families. As Ryan Grim at Huffington Post reports:
The public option tied to Medicare rates saves $110 billion over ten years. Requiring it to negotiate rates only saves $25 billion.
If leadership goes with the negotiated-rate plan, that $85 billion difference will have to come from somewhere to meet President Obama’s ten-year, $900 billion price ceiling. The fattest target is the subsidies to help people afford insurance.
Going with negotiated rates instead of a robust public option will deny American families a choice that would save them roughly $1,400 a year on their health care premiums. But making the public option less robust might also cause the government to reduce the amount of tax credits it can give to low-income and middle-income Americans to help them afford health insurance by roughly 20%. So, not only will American families be denied a much cheaper insurance option, but they will also be given less financial assistance to help them afford health insurance from a selection of more expensive options.
Making the public option less robust will end up costing working class families thousands more each year on health care. That is what the 47 Democrats who are “Nays” on the robust public option are desperately fighting for. They are fighting for a position that they know will make health care dramatically more expensive for millions of Americans.
Update – The Hill is reporting that Majority Whip James Clyburn is disputing the accuracy of the previous published whip count.